Over 900,000 children between the ages of 0-59 months in Cross River State are set to be vaccinated against Poliomyelitis.
The Obol Opol of Ugep, His Royal Majesty, Ofem Ubana Eteng flagged off the vaccination exercise yesterday of the disease in his palace at Yakurr Local Government Area of the state seen as one of the deadliest in the history of mankind
At the flag off ceremony, the Director General of the Cross River State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Janet Ekpenyong, said, so far in Cross River State, “no record of Poliomyelitis 2 variant has been recorded, this is due to the collective efforts of all stakeholders including the traditional, religious and political leaders who are determined to see a healthier Cross River State”.
The choice of flag off at the palace of the Obol Lopon, she said is because the role of the traditional institution in the promotion of health activities cannot be over emphasized, and the Obol lopon has always been a voice and a champion of vaccination, hence parents and caregivers to protect the lives of the next generation by granting them the opportunity to get vaccinated within the stipulated time citing example with the Obol Opol who has often led in the mobilization of children within his Community for similar exercises.
According to her,, “immunization is a right of a child and the child should not be deprived” and the state government with support from partner agencies have mapped out strategies to get all children vaccinated irrespective of weather conditions, topographical challenges as well as other suormomuntable barriers which hindered accessibility and 100% coverage in the time past.
Dr Ekpenyong said, with the commitment of health workers with compelling voices from strategic leaders like the Traditional Rulers council, Religious leaders, Government functionaries, Youths and Women leaders, the state has remained Poliomyelitis free despite panicking figures from some states of the federation.
She stated that with the devastating effects of the disease to children within 0-59 months which includes economic, psychological and general well-being, all hands must be on deck for continuous and non stop advocacy and sensitization in churches, schools , markets and other places of public gathering .
She appreciated the efforts of the Obol Opol of Ugep in identifying with the health sector as his continuous advocacy has led to the advancement of the health sector in Yakurr Local Government Area as well as the state at large, saying “today, we are officially flagging off the First round of the Outbreak Response on Poliomyelitis for our children between the ages of 0-59 months because they are the most vulnerable because of the level of their immunity.”
She said because of the outbreak of the type 2 Poliomyelitis, the Federal and state governments embarked on this response to ensure that child mortality rate is lowered as this disease has a ripple effect on the socio, economic and general well-being of affected families.
On his part, the Obol Opol and host of the event was excited that exercise of such magnitude was being decentralized to encourage participation and give a sense of belonging to all communities in the state.
He pledged his support towards raising awareness on the Outbreak Response on Poliomyelitis and other health interventions in order to compliment the efforts of the state government and health workers who work tirelessly for the outright elimination of all vaccine preventable diseases.
On his part, the Director Public Health, State Ministry of Health, Dr Iwara Iwara, reiterated Government’s commitment to eradicating vaccine preventable diseases and encouraged the mothers to ensure their children are vaccinated as it is the responsibility of the parents to protect their children.
The exercise which began on the 9th of April is expected to officially climax on the 12th of April with two additional days for the sorting of missed children in the community as health workers are expected to move from house to House, schools, churches , markets places , some temporary post as well as permanent health facilities.
High point of the event was the oral administration of the Vaccine to children at the venue, Covid-19 vaccination for adults and the distribution of health packs to pregnant and nursing mothers.